There have been far too many treats around my house lately. Which was fun for a while but once the novelty wore off, I found myself craving simpler, savory things. When I first started eating Paleo I didn’t allow myself to do “Paleo” treats. As someone who used to bake CONSTANTLY, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of just replacing one type of treat with another. So it was fun to dabble in sweet things once again, but after a while it became clear that my tastes and palate have changed a LOT since those days. Most of the time, what I genuinely want is healthy, nutritious food. Who would have thought?! So these zucchini noodles really hit the spot: delicious fresh vegetables topped with sweet scallops, salty bacon and finished with the tang of fresh lemon. Perfect.
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I don’t tend to cook scallops very often because they are usually very expensive. I also used to find them terribly intimidating because I was terrified of over cooking them – perhaps BECAUSE they’re usually so expensive! For both of those reasons, I wouldn’t normally buy these super teeny tiny “petite” scallops. But when I found these wild caught mini scallops on sale for half price, I figured now was the time to go for it! And you know what? You really don’t need to be intimidated at all!
The trick to cooking these isn’t complicated. You just need to make sure that they are really DRY when you add them to the pan to sear them. Make sure the pan is as hot as you can manage without the bacon fat beginning to smoke, then drop them into the pan, shaking it until they are all flat side down. You’ll be tempted to move them around while they cook, but don’t! Leave them for about 2 minutes before taking a peek at one of them. If that test scallop is lightly browned, you can flip them over and sear the second side for about another 1 – 2 minutes. Remove them from the pan and they’re done!
I don’t know about you, but when I see these miniature scallops, I think of pasta. I swapped my old foodie flame for zucchini noodles, made with my trusty spiralizer! If you haven’t bought one yet, I really recommend you do. They make food fun and open up even more super simple grain free recipe options. Seriously, you should get one! In this zucchini noodle dish, the scallops are so sweet that they pair beautifully with the natural saltiness of bacon, so I kept things really simple. The best thing about these zucchini noodles is that you don’t need to make a separate sauce. By cooking them in bacon fat and then adding the squeeze of fresh lemon juice, they have all the flavor they need. So don’t be tempted to leave out the lemon juice – it really makes the dish!
If you’re making this for the first time, I highly recommend you set out everything you need at the beginning. Chop your green onions, make your zucchini noodles and make sure you’ve got somewhere to keep two hot pans safely on the countertop at the same time. It’ll make things so much easier! And you’ll still have dinner on the table in about a half an hour. Plus, this tastes even better the next day!
This recipe was shared at the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable by Phoenix Helix – go check it out!
- Lay the cleaned scallops on a clean dish towel or paper towel to dry. Fold the clean towel over the scallops or lay an extra sheet of paper towel on top. Press gently to absorb excess moisture; set aside, still covered.
- In a large flat bottomed pan, cook the bacon until crisp.
- While the bacon is cooking, use a vegetable spiralizer or julienne peeler to make your zucchini noodles. Save the noodles for later.
- When the bacon is cooked, remove from the pan and set it aside.
- Pour off most of the excess bacon fat and save for later, leaving behind just enough to coat the pan lightly. Save the pan to cook the scallops later.
- In a large, high sided pan, add about 2 tsp of the reserved bacon fat. Bring to medium high heat and add the zucchini noodles and garlic powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Saute the zucchini noodles until just softened, about 3 - 5 minutes. While the noodles are cooking, chop the cooked reserved bacon into pieces.
- Remove the noodles from the heat and toss them with ⅔ of the bacon, the white parts of the chopped green onions and a squeeze of lemon juice. Set to one side.
- Return the flat bottomed pan to the stove and bring to medium high heat. Add the dried scallops to the pan; they should sizzle straight away, but the bacon fat should not be so hot it is smoking.
- Sear the scallops until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Toss or flip the scallops and sear the other side for 1 - 2 minutes, until golden.
- Remove the scallops from the heat and toss them in with the noodles.
- Divide the noodles between plates and garnish with the remaining bacon pieces and green onions.
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